In college, we lived with friends and we lived near friends. The world revolved around our social lives and we hash-tagged #SquadGoals every Friday night. Now, our Instagram is limited to pictures of our cat, our coffee and remnants of our college glory days. But our friends who haven’t graduated? That’s another story. We see our college friends still spending their weekends downtown and living it up, without us. Does life still go on?
You feel left out of the fun. #FOMO
If you’ve graduated before your friends, you’re probably experiencing “Peter Pan Syndrome.” You still want to party and tailgate, stay out too late and binge-eat takeout pizza. But you have the responsibilities of the real world now too and there isn’t the option to “skip” or “retake” when things get hard. You can’t fail at your job because you have rent to pay, and that cat to feed. Between balancing a job, fitness goals and your budget, you’re tired and stressed out. Let’s face it, most of us just can’t close the bars like we used to, and the Monday mornings after seem to last a lot longer. Sometimes a bubble bath and Netflix are more appealing than a night out so we stay in far more often than we used to. And our college friends stop inviting us out as much as they used to. Or worse yet, you’ve moved away and the option to mingle with your college crowd is off the table altogether.
“For me, my depression is triggered from seeing my friends heading back to school and getting to do all the things I was fortunate enough to do for a couple of years.” – Brielle M.
If you’re missing college, don’t forget that you can always visit. Stay with your college friends and live like a college kid for a weekend. Or try the lite version and attend the next home game decked out in team apparel. Who knows, you may actually see the game when you aren’t forced to sit in the student section.
Try new things to meet new people.
Sure, you can’t connect with your college crowd as much, but when was the last time you made a new friend? Rather than staying in watching Snapchat stories of people having fun, try something new yourself. Give one of these the ol’ college try:
- Volunteering. You’ll meet some genuine, awesome people at places like Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis or even your local Chamber of Commerce. These organizations are always in need of help and you’ll be doing something you can feel good about.
- Traditional sports. Thought your intramural days were over? Think again. Adult recreational sports exist in most places for rugby, soccer, baseball, basketball, football or other team sports.
- Workout classes. Try something fast-paced like spinning, Zumba, PiYo, or a HIIT class or chill out and make new friends over a group yoga class. Workout classes are a great way to stay fit after college and chit chat before and after the class is usually encouraged.
- Clubs. Yep, there are still clubs in the real world. Try out a book club or a running group to meet people with common interests.
- Art Classes. If you have the time and patience, a local art class can be a great way to get to know people. Wine & Canvas events or sewing groups are also good options.
- Church. Church activities are surrounded by people who’d like to be your friend.
- Go out. This was a great way to make friends in college, and now as well. If you’ve stopped going out since college, grab a friend and re-learn how to mingle.
- Travel alone. Singles are much more approachable than a group, so you’ll meet a ton of people traveling by yourself. And it’s actually pretty fun. Give it a try, you might surprise yourself.
- Social apps. These are the new age way of meeting people. If you’ve recently moved or live in a large city, check out MeetUp, InstaMeet, NextDoor and Meettheneighbors. These are just a few of the online resources available to help young adults find and engage with new people.
It’s not just you – making friends is harder after college.
If you aren’t networking each day like you did in college, it’s normal. You likely aren’t surrounded by masses of your peers anymore so you may have to put in some work to make friends.
“I made a Bumble for friends profile the other day.” – CJ T.
It’s important to remember your friends don’t have to be in the exact same “life stage” as you. Whether you’re single, married, etc., you’ll make more friends by being open minded to new people. Also, be sure to stay in touch with your friends and if you want to expand your circle, say yes to new social opportunities, and actually follow through with them. And don’t worry about finding the perfect social outing to do with friends, it’s okay to just “hang out” sometimes like you used to in the dorms.
Talk to someone if you’re struggling.
Post-college depression is real, and many grads deal with it. Talk to a professional if you find yourself reminiscing and mourning your college days more than actually enjoying the present. However, believe us, your best days probably haven’t happened yet.
Graduating before your friends do may not be ideal, but there is a bright side. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars each year, you’ll actually be making it. And that’s not the only thing you’ll love about the real world. Don’t forget you’ve already tackled the pre-grad struggles like finding a job, moving to a new city or finding an apartment and taking on the responsibilities of adulthood. Your college friends are probably stressing over those and will soon be having the exact feelings you do now. Try to relax and enjoy this new transition – and give yourself something to look back on fondly someday.